March 1, 2004
Equity Improves New Business Theatre and Events Contract For Corporate, Business Events
“Goal Is To Regain Work Weeks,” Says Quinn
Streamlined Agreement Is Geared For Corporate Markets
Actors’ Equity has approved a radically new and streamlined Business Theatre and Events Contract that will replace the Union’s old Live Corporate Communications Contract. The new agreement was approved by Equity’s Council at its meeting on Tuesday, February 17th and will take effect on March 1, 2004 when the old contract expires.
“Our goal is to regain workweeks in this lucrative market,” explained Equity President Patrick Quinn, who presided at the Council meeting. “For many years, industrials were a major source of jobs for our members, so it’s important that we adapt to the new business environment with this simplified and streamlined agreement.”
“The biggest conceptual change is that the contract will no longer be weekly, but daily,” explained Senior Business Representative Rick Berg. “Actors will be contracted at a daily rate for specific days, which need not be consecutive if the actor is residing at home, but must be consecutive if the Actor is out of town. The new daily rates represent a substantial increase over the current weekly minimums.”
Eastern Regional Committee Chair Maureen Moore spearheaded the work of the Committee, in consultation with Western Region Chair Vernon Willet and Central Region Chair Thomas Joyce. Participating Equity staff members included Senior Business Representative Rick Berg, and Business Representatives Willie Boston, Susan De Gracia, Don Hill and Walt Kiskaddon.
“The Committee worked on this project for three years,” said Moore. “We spoke to Actors and Stage Managers, payroll services, area liaisons and staff members, but most importantly we met with producers in this area: independent producers, companies like Kaleidoscope, and Jack Morton Productions. We went back to square one, and asked, what can we do to get this work back?”
After soliciting suggestions, the Committee reviewed, condensed and simplified various provisions that were redundant or unnecessary. The Committee also proposed a number of changes to make the contract more flexible and attractive to producers. Said Moore: “Money is not the issue. The producers want work rules in line with other unions and a schedule that fits their business model.”
During its discussion, the Council noted that the industry had drastically changed since the heyday of large industrial shows like the defunct Milliken Industrial. Conventions, expos, showroom demos, spokesperson appearances and other corporate events are short term and tend to use smaller casts, who perform multiple functions.
Highlights of the Business Theatre and Events Contract:
“We’re hoping to entice members who have their own acts or create their own material – like an a cappella singing group, a stand up comedian, acrobatics, anything that’s conceptual or a specialty – to come forward and use the contract. There’s plenty of work out there – anyone who has these skills is getting hired, and we can offer them the benefits of the contract, including weeks toward health coverage,” added Moore.
“The contract wasn’t being used because it’s been laden down with old rules that are no longer relevant to these corporate clients. Producers and Actors are on the same playing level – we are both there to satisfy the corporate hierarchy. By simplifying and streamlining the contract, it will be easy for them to use.”
For further information about the new Business Theatre and Events Contract, contact Walt Kiskaddon (New York), Susan DeGracia (Chicago) or Don Hill (Los Angeles).